Albany’s smoke screen

"With a Democratic governor as well as a majority in the New York State Congress, by June of this year, the state had yet to balance its budget. The secret meetings and back door deals resulted in a pair of emergency bills that proposed to close the over $9 billion deficit gap the state was facing. The governor and high ranking Democrats in both the senate and assembly had put pressure on the state’s congress to pass these bills or face a complete shutdown of the government.

"Neatly packaged in the bill was an increase in the states tobacco tax, raising it $1.60 per pack. Not only did they increase the tax on cigarettes, they made provisions to collect tobacco tax from Indian reservations all across the state which would go into effect Sept. 1, 2010. The bill was passed along party lines with republicans voting no.

"On July 1, the tax on a pack of cigarettes went from $2.75 to $4.35, bringing a pack of cigarettes, depending on the brand, within a price range of $9 to $12 or $85. to $120 per carton. After this tax went into effect, smokers drove from every corner of the state onto the Indian reservations to buy cigarettes at half the price or less. While the reservations saw record profits, according to a lobbying group, convenience stores, were experiencing anywhere from a 25 to 45 percent loss in cigarette sales.

"In the past, New York State has made several attempts to collect cigarette taxes from the Indian reservations. In one sterling example of their failure, the Onondaga reservation towed junk cars onto interstate Route 81 blocking both the north and south-bound lanes that crossed tribal land in protest. In 1997, another attempt to collect taxes from the Seneca resulted in violent upheaval. Tires were burned and a 30 mile stretch of the New York thruway was cleared off. One Indian chief has said that trying to collect taxes would be considered an act of war.

"Instead of sending the state police to enforce the law, the legislation’s 2010 plan is to tax the wholesalers of national brands the $4.36 per pack tax prior to selling their packs to the reservation stores. Paterson on a radio talk show WOR-AM stated that he would not interfere with cigarettes made and sold on Indian reservations, but, "once they come off or anyone else comes off of their sacred land with cigarettes that are not being taxed by New York State, we are going to address that issue." Paterson didn’t reveal any details on what he had meant, however one can only speculate that there may be arrests for trafficking or other types of crimes. Recently, a sign was spotted on the Tonawanda band of the Seneca’s reservation overpass reading, "NYS declares war 9-1-2010. Let the fires begin!" Paterson said, "There will be quite an uprising and protest to this, but I am going to maintain this policy. The state police tell us over and over again that there could be violence and death as a result of some of the measures we’re taking."

"According to Seneca President Barry Snyder Sr., "It is our intention to block the state from ever collecting a penny of tax on sales of tobacco by the Seneca nation or any other Native American nation under this ill-conceived taxing scheme." As of today, nothing has been done to collect the extra tax from the reservations. The Seneca and Cayuga Indian Nations have decided to battle the tax in Federal Court, where a ruling has not yet been made.

"It seems to me that progressive Democrats are for civil rights of minorities, but only when it suits them. If there is money to be made, forget about the Native American sovereignty or treaties dating back to 1794. To add insult to injury, New York City Mayor Bloomberg, a progressive Independent, on his radio talk show made the statement, "I’ve said this to David Paterson, I said, you know, ‘Get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun. If there’s ever a great video, it’s you standing in the middle of the New York State Thruway saying, you know, ‘Read my lips the law of the land is this, and we’re going to enforce the law." That racially-charged statement belies the fact that liberals make token noises about Indian rights, but they’ll throw anyone under the bus in order to keep big-government bureaucracy bloated.

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